Former Oilers d-man Nikitin signs in KHL

AP
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Nikita Nikitin, whose name is fun to sing to the tune of Hakuna Matata, has rejoined the club of his youth.

Oh Friday, KHL side Avangard Omsk announced it signed Nikitin, reuniting him with the club he played for from 2003-10.

Nikitin, 30, split last season between Edmonton and its AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. Saddled with a two-year, $9 million contract that the Oilers eventually saw as an albatross — yes, even though they negotiated it — Nikitin was the subject of trade rumors last year, none of them coming to fruition.

So the Oilers tried to find other ways to salvage the situation. Nikitin was waived ahead of the start of the regular season, but recalled twice during the year.

In his prime, Nikitin was a fairly useful defenseman, and netted a career-best 32 points in just 54 games with Columbus during the ’11-12 campaign. His play steadily declined over the last few seasons, though, and there were questions about his fitness level in Edmonton.